The Perfect Setting, Part One: In the City
The historic Greek city of Kavala, where our kourabies recipe was born, has a powerful story to tell, a story of ancient and modern cultures, of sweeping waves of people, and of a panoply of gastronomic delights that characterizes the city and the surrounding area.
A few kilometres from city center, archaeologists have uncovered carbonized pieces of grapes that had been pressed in clay pots, grapes that were dated back to 4200 B.C. – evidence of the oldest wine ever made on the continent of Europe – some 6,000 years ago! The Ancient Greek God of Wine Dionysus was said to have come from the region of Kavala, and today some of Greece’s finest red and white wines are found by following the “Wine Road of Dionysus” to the many innovative new wineries that bring to the international market the rich bounty from superb vineyards on the slopes of the Pangaion mountains that ring the Bay of Kavala where our city is situated.
Let’s enter the city, seeing at once the magnificent arches of the Aqueduct, known as “Kamares,” that identifies Kavala.
With origins in Roman and Byzantine times, it was finished by Ottoman ruler Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century. Its sixty soaring arches cover a distance of some 300 meters. Built close to this ancient structure are the small houses and shops of people from Asia Minor and farther to the east, refugees arriving from numberless wars and conflicts down through the ages and until today. Here at “Kamares,” as well as in the Old Town with its impressive castle and the mansion and public buildings built by Kavala’s famous native son, Mohammed Ali Pasha, who was later to govern Egypt and to found the ruling dynasty there; and downtown, among the beautiful neoclassical buildings that edge the port and its promenade, you will feast on the culinary heritage of all these people of Kavala – from ancient to modern.
In the vast array of lively tavernas – from traditional to modern, intimate to expansive, you will savour the food from Ancient Greece, such as lamb cooked with quince; and from Constantinople, such as freshly-caught sardines wrapped in grape leaves. You will also discover a rare treat: artisinal Pontian pita – at the trendy Satsi Art Food, where the “staff of life” of Greek refugees from the Black Sea region (known in Ancient Greece as The Pontus) is lovingly prepared to order after you’ve chosen the fresh, regional ingredients that your individual pita will contain. Enjoy a crowning dinner of exquisite fish, shrimp and kalamari caught daily from the Bay of Kavala – seafood that is highly prized throughout Greece and abroad.
But sweets, sweets, sweets! Sweets are a way of life in Greece, and certainly here in this city. There is the “zacharoplasteio,” (sweetshop), open every day of the week in the many charming neighbourhoods of Kavala, to answer the desires of everyone who loves and understands the magic of sweets, and especially kourabies. Are you already planning your visit to Kavala? Then think of this. Choose July to go to Kavala, and attend the “Ilios and Petros” (“Sun and Stone”) Traditional Dance and Culture Festival held in the village of Nea Karvali – only minutes from the heart of Kavala. Enjoy an unforgettable evening performance in the precise birthplace of the kourabies that has inspired the glorious experience that you have every time you taste our Petit Grecs kourabies.